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PSY 471/571 Health Psychology: Getting Started

What do You Need?

Research articles that are peer reviewed and empirical, original research, with a strong focus on quantitative.

1. Identify the important concepts and keywords of your topic.

For example: The effectiveness* of cognitive behavioral therapy to treat chronic pain.
Consider synonyms and related terms for your keywords and concepts.

*Also consider how research methodology informs your topic—effectiveness, for example, will ideally be measured by a randomized controlled trial.

2. Who cares about this topic?

Identify and search the databases of disciplines interested in your topic (Psychology, Medicine, Sociology, etc.). For this course you’ll likely use PsycINFO, MEDLINE (PubMed), and a multidisciplinary database like Web of Science.

3. Search for articles using subject headings and keywords.

Subject Headings Keywords
  • standardized words or phrases used to categorize literature
  • relevant results much more likely 
  • subject headings not consistent across databases
  • good initial strategy
  • perform searches with synonymous words/terms
  • more likely to have irrelevant results

4. Look at article references and “cited by”.

Review the references cited in articles you select. These citations will lead you to other relevant articles. Also look for who has cited an article after it was published (cited by or times cited links)

5. Export selected citations

You can keep track of articles of interest by selecting and exporting them to your email or a file. The “Find it @ PSU” link will also be exported, giving you easy access to the full text later on.

6. Read through abstracts, narrowing down to a set of full text articles for your bibliography. 

7. Properly cite your research articles using APA style

Peer Review

For your coursework you will be asked to find and cite scholarly and peer reveiwed articles. Peer review is a process by which research articles are evaluated for their quality and contribution to a scholarly field. It is important to remember that not every item published in a peer reviewed journal undergoes the peer review process. For instance, book reviews, editorials, and corrections are not peer reviewed.

Some ways to identify if a journal is peer reviewed:

  • List of editorial board members who are at universities around the country or the world.
  • Instructions to authors such as: the title page should include names of all and their affiliations at time research was done span. This information will be masked to ensure a blind peer review process by the editorial office. Authors should make sure that all other identifying information in the text of the paper is masked/removed prior to submission." (e.g. Health Psychology, Instructions to Authors).

Psychology Librarian

Michelle Desilets's picture
Michelle Desilets

Index of Journals

To quickly get to the official webpage of a particular journal, and to check if the journal is peer-reviewed, search by journal title in Ulrich's: